Three Abducted Journalists In Syria Have Been Freed

Two Swedish freelance journalists and a Turkish photographer were released from Syria after a month and a half in captivity.

Two Swedish journalists, who were abducted in Syria in November 2013, have been freed, the Associated Press reported. Sweden’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the release of photographer Niclas Hammarstrom on Jan. 5 and reporter Magnus Falkehed on Jan. 8, after a month and a half in captivity.

Tt News Agency / Reuters


Nicals Hammarstrom (left) and Magnus Falkehed.

One of the Swedish journalists was transported from the Syrian-Lebanese border by the International Committee of the Red Cross and handed over to embassy officials. The other returned to Beirut on his own according to an ICRC official.

Robert Mardini


As neutral humanitarian intermediary, we @ICRC have just transferred the freed #Swedish journalist from #Arsal to his embassy in #Beirut

/ Via

A kidnapped Turkish photojournalist, Bunyamin Aygun, was also released on Jan. 5. Agyun, who worked for the Istanbul daily, Milliyet, was also abducted in November last year by armed Syrian opposition groups.

Bunyamin Aygun (center-left) is surrounded by friends a day after his release, in Istanbul, Turkey on Jan. 6. AP Photo/Ozan Guzelce, Milliyet

While Swedish officials declined to say who kidnapped the two journalists and why, Hammarstrom told a local paper that they were kidnapped by criminals on Nov. 23. He said his captors shot him in his left leg during an escape attempt a few days later.

Hans and Gudrun Hammarstrom, parents of photographer Niclas Hammarstrom (seen on the right of the screen), watch the news about the release of their son in their home in Soderhamn, in northern Sweden, on Jan. 8. Tt News Agency / Reuters

Hammarstrom also said he and Falkehed were beaten “thoroughly with different weapons.” However, he said, the kidnappers brought a doctor to tend to his wounds and he remained in good physical condition during captivity apart from weight loss.

Turkish journalists demand the release Magnus Falkehed and other abducted journalists from Syria at a protest in Ankara, Turkey, in December 2013. AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File

Aygun, who has won awards for his photographs of Syria’s civil war, was kidnapped by groups believed to have ties to al-Qaeda. After his release, he was handed over to a team of Turkish intelligence officers in Syria near Turkey’s border.

Bunyamin Aygun rests at a hotel after his release, in Antakya, Turkey, on Sunday, Jan. 5. AP Photo/Yurttas Tumes, Milliyet

Syria is now seen as one of the most dangerous countries for reporters. A journalist was kidnapped in Syria more than once a week in 2013, according to research by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Hundreds of Turkish journalists called for the immediate release of Aygun and all journalists kidnapped in Syria during a protest in Istanbul, Turkey. AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

Turkish journalists call for release of Bünyamin Aygün and other missing journalists in Syria @euronews

— Bora Bayraktar (@Bora_Bayraktar)

Bora Bayraktar


Turkish journalists call for release of Bünyamin Aygün and other missing journalists in Syria @euronews

/ Via

An estimated 30 journalists are believed to be held hostage by Syrian rebel groups fighting Bashar al-Assad’s government, according to this letter sent to rebel groups by news organizations asking for the release of kidnapped journalists.

@carlbildt happy that 3 from this list released this week but urgent need to help other journalists missing in Syria

— Inigo Gilmore (@InigoGilmore)

Inigo Gilmore


@carlbildt happy that 3 from this list released this week but urgent need to help other journalists missing in Syria

/ Via

Apart from jihadi groups, criminal gangs, government-supported militias, and rebel groups backed by the West, are also responsible for kidnappings of journalists. Most abductions take place in rebel strongholds which have a strong al-Qaeda influence.

A poster calling for the release of French journalists Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Henin, and Pierre Torres, who have been abducted in Syria, is installed on the facade of the Île-de-France regional council headquarters in Paris on Jan. 6. Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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